Just got back last Sunday from a Sitka blacktail hunt up in SE Alaska. Originally, the plan had been to hunt the NE corner of Prince of Wales Island. Unfortunately, tremendously strong winds (gusts up to 100+ knots) got in the way of our nautical plans. Fortunately, my father is an idea man and promptly figured out that if we couldn't go south, we'd go north (we were based in Petersburg). So while the original plan was for my dad to go up a few days early, get the boat ready in Petersburg, and then sail south, we instead ended up meeting him after he'd be in town for a few days preparing for a cabin trip up on Admiralty Island.
We ended up staying at at Forest Service cabin for five nights up on the south end of Admiralty Island. We had a great trip. Fortunately, the bout of cold weather that preceded our trip must have put most of the brown bears to hibernating, because we didn't see any bears or any bear sign at all, fresh or old.
I was hunting with my friend Joel and my father. Because of a hand injury, my dad wasn't able to shoot, but did a helluva job as camp cook and outfitter. Joel, relatively new to hunting and having never shot a deer, was hunting with his .308. I was hunting with my tried-and-true 55# Wes Wallace longbow, my companion on many hunts.
Here's a typical scene of us exploring the muskegs and timber. First pic is me, second is Joel.
Early on the first morning, Joel made a great 100 yard shot on a fat doe and dropped her in her tracks. We ate tenderloins that night.
There weren't a whole lot of deer around, and the next day we actually saw nothing. A heavy rain greeted us on day three, and we were out in the muskegs early. As we came over a little rise we looked about 150 yards away and saw through the mist two spike bucks fighting! After a quick discussion we decided that we'd both close to within 100 yards and then I'd continue on on my own to try and get in bow range. Given the rain and the soft ground it was pretty easy to close to about 100 yards. As I crept along the edge of the muskeg, the deer seemed to tire of fighting and started to ease their way back towards the timber. I gambled on which trail they'd take and quickly crawled through the loam to get on it. Unfortunately, I over shot, and the two bucks actually chose a less-used trail to leave the muskeg. This brought them between Joel, with his rifle, and me, or at least on a course that would put them there. I frantically crab-walked back to close the distance to the trail. One of the two bucks, at about 25 yards, sensed something wasn't quite right and gave me the laser-look through the trees. He was broadside, but very still and looking unhappy. Even though 25 yards is about the limit of my range, I felt that the shot was good and so I rose up to one knee and released. My arrow whisked through his chest.
Amazingly, the whole time I'd been getting ready to shoot, Joel had the other buck (by pure luck) in his sight. THe second he heard my bow "twang" he fired, not sure if I had hit my buck or not. The other spike again dropped like a sack of rocks, and my buck bounded for 50 yards through the muskeg before bedding down and dying. We'd got both of them! It was quite an amazing experience.
My buck as he lay:
The two of us with both our deer and the muskeg where we shot them behind us.
Another shot of my deer
The two together
The next few days we hunted hard but didn't see as many deer (the whole trip we only saw about fifteen deer). There was lots of sign but I think other guys had been there before us. There were definitely enough around and if I'd wanted to, I could've filled a couple more tags no problem with the rifle, but I decided to hold out until the last day. Unfortunately, the last two days a heavy frost hit and made everything about as noisy as could be, and we didn't end up getting any opportunities right at the end. Still, we were pleased as could be with the three deer, and it was a great trip.
Quite a bit of rut activity, in addition to the fighting deer!
And the longbow performed yet again. A perfect passthru. It's beautiful and deadly.
The cabin was comfortable and warm with the oil stove. A little dark, as we didn't have much light except head lamps, having planned on being on the boat instead of a cabin. Definitely will bring candles etc next time.
And the flight out was beautiful, in crisp clear sky with views of the mountains on both sides.
All in all a great trip. I want to thank everyone on the board who gave me advice in planning for this hunt. Hope to do it again soon!